UTILIZING SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS FOR EFFECTIVE CAMPAIGN AGAINST TERRORISM IN NIGERIA; A STUDY OF FACEBOOK AND TWITTER
1.1 Background of the study
Terrorism is one of the biggest threats to the peace and stability of Nigeria and has evidently threatened national security and socio-economic developments. The activities of the terrorists have created atmosphere of siege and desolation, which have impediment to trades, investments, peaceful co-existence and stability, as well as sustainable livelihood and development in Nigeria (Okoli and Iortyer, 2014). Terrorism is a sort of violence that uses one-sided violent approach against civilians. It also engages uneven violent confrontation against a stronger adversary, which could be a state or a group of states (Ekaterina, 2008). Indeed the manifestation of terrorism has been evident in Nigeria and the phenomenon has found expression in the emergence of Boko Haram insurgency in 2009. The Boko Haram appears to be the most visible security threat to the country and launched violent attacks on the Nigerian State, killing thousands of people and destroying public and private properties in different parts of the country (Adamu and Ocheni, 2016). Like most of the terrorist groups, it seems to defy several counter terrorism measures introduced by the Nigerian government (Akwara, Udaw and Onimawo, 2013). In order to combat this menace of terrorism in Nigeria, there is a need for proactive, reconnaissance, sustainable and effective campaign against terrorism using social media like facebook and twitter.
Social media are computer-mediated tools or online platforms that allow individuals, companies and organizations to create, share, or exchange information, career interests, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks (Ekaterina, 2008). The Social Media which have no doubt flooded every facet of human endeavor and are also being taken advantages by terrorists to propagate their extreme ideologies, recruit new members, train their members, communicate and conspire with international linkages, and raise funds among others. Arising from this background, this study will examine the use of social media as an Indispensable Counterterrorism tool to improve campaign towards Combating Terrorism in Nigeria through the Social Media platforms such as facebook and twitter. However, social network sites (SNSs) such as Facebook and twitter, have attracted millions of users. These SNSs have become our daily practices. Social networks have become integral part of our lives (Mbachu, 2011). However, security agencies can adopt the use of social media to help fight and prevent terrorism. The implementation of social media in terrorism investigations has gained traction over the last five years, but not without controversy. Social media monitoring is a highly useful tool that can security agencies do their job faster. A dedicated social media management platform can help reveal patterns, identify user sentiment, interpret certain language that can tie to terrorism, and more. Social data analytics can expose illegal activity, and even prevent it from happening (Bennett and Wiegand, 2004).
On the flip side, social media users can be more forthcoming online than in person, which helps security agencies to campaign against terrorism and communicate with their respective communities. According to a Chiluwa study on social media use by security agencies, 40% use it to monitor events, and 34% use social to notify the public of terrorism activity, emergencies or disasters. The study revealed that, “The value of social media in investigations, both now and in the future, is abundant.” The popularity of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have transformed the way we understand and experience terrorism and victimisation. Previously, it’s been thought that people form their opinions about terrorism from what they see or read in the media. But with social media taking over as our preferred news source, how do these new platforms impact our understanding of terrorism? Social media has also created new concerns in relation to terrorism itself. Victimisation on social media platforms is not uncommon. However, it is not all bad news. Social media has created new opportunities for security agencies to solve terrorism, among other things. Thus, like many other advancements in communication technology, social media has a good, a bad and an ugly side when it comes to its relationship with campaigning against terrorism (Chiluwa, 2012).
There is no doubt social media has been beneficial for some institutions. For the security agencies social media has given them unprecedented access to the public, and vice versa. Via Facebook and Twitter, security and the public can communicate in real time about incidents and events. This has proven invaluable not only during times of crisis, but also on a day-to-day basis and at the local level. Social media has also become an important tool in security investigations. For example, the release of CCTV footage of Melbourne woman Jill Meagher’s last moments via Facebook pages assisted in apprehending her killer. Furthermore, the social media “broadcasting” of insurgency has added an extra level of transparency to the fight against terrorism. But while live tweeting represents a step forward in achieving open solution, there remain concerns with the practice (Brisman, 2015).
1.2 Statement of the problem
In recent years, Nigeria’s national security has been threatened by different forms of terrorism challenges, which has affected lives and properties worth billions of Naira. Among the 21st century internet inventions, SM has defined and changed social and political interactions and communication across nations. Terrorist and other criminal groups are using SM to pass their information to the general public, because the platform is cheap and readily accessible (Ngige, 2016). While the general public also uses SM to understand, and keep in touch with different kinds of socio-economic, political and social events, SM is no longer a new invention for the Nigerian society, whereby many young, old, private and public organisations make use of the platform on a daily basis. The high level of SM penetration in Nigeria increased its use in discussing terrorism-related issues and brought in platforms like facebook and twitter for effective campaign against terrorism in Nigeria. Therefore social networking brought many positive implications to human life such as making the connection of millions of people from all over the world possible. Perhaps, this ubiquitous presence may appear innocent at the surface. On the other hand, the increasing sophistication and improved integration of social media have also created unparalleled opportunities for security agencies to connect with their communities in innovative new ways since social media plays a very important role in the global fight against terrorism.